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How To Be A Movie Reviewer June 30, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Humor, Word Play, Writing & Writers.

220px-Poster_-_Tarzan_the_Fearless_01To be a movie reviewer, you need to learn how to say something without saying anything in such a way that people reading the review think you said something worth reading.

Consider these two reviews:

Review #1:  This is a great movie. Everything about it is fantastic.  I am very glad I went to see this movie.  It is the best movie I have ever seen.  Everyone should go see this movie.  This is a must see.

Review #2:  In this delightful comedy, the brilliant director and talented actors work together to create magic on the screen, causing viewers to laugh, cry, and leave the theater in a happier frame of mind than when they arrived.

Assuming you didn’t know the reviewer, which movie would you want to see?

That’s the review you want to write.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Quote to Ponder:  “I like the word indolence . . . it makes my laziness seem classy.”  ~ Bern Williams


1. Silver in the Barn - June 30, 2014

Reviews are so tricky. I don’t go to many movies but I read a lot. And I’ve learned to be really skeptical of books enthusiastically reviewed with five stars on Amazon. Admittedly, my tastes are a bit off-center. And I love that quote!!

nrhatch - June 30, 2014

I love that quote too. It seemed a perfect complement to a post about watching/reviewing movies for a living ~ it’s a nice gig if you can get it. 😎

We almost never go to the movies, but do get movies to watch via Netflix. Since it’s a $1 investment per movie, we often “take a chance” that a movie will appeal even if we have our doubts based on reviews. We now know to skip most movies rated R.

2. Jill Weatherholt - June 30, 2014

Definitely #2! What a great quote, Nancy!

nrhatch - June 30, 2014

Some might call me lazy . . . I view myself as “efficient” at finding appropriate short cuts. 😎

Grannymar - June 30, 2014


nrhatch - June 30, 2014

Thanks, GM!

3. William D'Andrea - June 30, 2014

I remember reading one review of a movie titled “Half Way to Hell”: “Over estimates the distance.”
I also remember reading one about a movie titled “Cleopatra”, which was produced in the 1930s:
“As Cleopatra, Tallulah Bankhead barged down the Nile and sank.”
I also remember the greatest one about the Egyptian Queen, which was produced in the early 1960’s starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Rex Harrison and a “Cast of Thousands”; which went so far over budget that it almost put 20th Century Fox out of business.
The review said, the picture was “Good”; and the movie studio remained in business.
What this means is that a movie reviewer can be a very powerful figure in the motion picture industry. The careers of thousands are in their hands.

nrhatch - June 30, 2014

Fun examples, William.

With the advent of the internet, the clout of professional reviewers has diminished since average viewers now have a platform to publish book and movie reviews.

4. katecrimmins - June 30, 2014

I rarely am influenced by reviewers (except maybe for shoes on the web). Movie reviewers are the worst. They either like it or the don’t but they don’t give pertinent details so the reader can decide for themselves.

nrhatch - June 30, 2014

Sometimes reviews clue me ~ I just removed a movie from our Netflix queue because **SPOILER ALERT** several 1-star reviews revealed that much of the movie involved watching Scarlett Johansson stare off into space. That sounded as dull as watching paint dry.

Nothing in the 5-star reviews convinced me that I would enjoy the artsy-fartsiness of watching Scarlett staring off into space.

5. Crowing Crone - June 30, 2014

love that first sentence. It made me think it could, perhaps, also be applied to news-reporters.

nrhatch - June 30, 2014

Especially in the teasers/ commercials aimed at getting viewers to tune in to the News At Eleven ~> omg! there’s an outbreak of a lethal virus SOMEWHERE . . . must tune in!

6. NancyTex - June 30, 2014

same applies to book reviews, NH.

nrhatch - June 30, 2014

True dat! It’s great when a review clues us in to something we end up LOVING about a book or movie.

7. Grannymar - June 30, 2014

I was listening to the BBC Radio the other day and they had a ‘reviewer’ on, he provided reviews for several sites including the one mentioned by Silver in the Barn. He was paid for each item, often without ever, purchasing the goods or reading the books that were suggesting. So I will make up my own mind, and remember a quote that my father was fond of using: ‘Paper won’t refuse ink’ Cyberspace seems to be no different.

nrhatch - June 30, 2014

Your dad is so right. Sometimes when I’m looking for someone in cyberspace who KNOWS what they are talking about, I come away empty handed.

Much of what they sell as “certainty” is speculation based on conjecture and supposition via hypothesis and anecdotal evidence. It doesn’t even rise to the level of pseudo-science ~ it’s closer to baseless suspicion and superstition. 😎

Grannymar - June 30, 2014

That is so true, Nancy.

nrhatch - June 30, 2014

Here’s to the internet where we can share unsubstantiated opinions with gullible guppies. 😉

8. Pix Under the Oaks - June 30, 2014

Review #2 works for me.. 😀

nrhatch - June 30, 2014

I like “feel good” movies ~> stories that end on a “high note.”

9. Behind the Story - June 30, 2014

Where did you get #1? I assume it wasn’t from a paid movie reviewer–maybe not even from an adult.

I don’t watch movies at home. I don’t like to watch TV for more than an hour at a time. So when I pay $9 for going out to a movie, I want to find a good one. I generally respect a couple of movie reviewers in the Seattle area. If you follow a reviewer, you know where his prejudices lie. I also enjoy hearing them talk about movies. One that has a gig on NPR is a real expert.

nrhatch - June 30, 2014

#1 is a parody of reviews I’ve read by VERY unprofessional reviewers ~ as if their stamp of approval, standing alone, should be enough to entice others to follow their lead.

You’ve got the right idea ~ once you know that a certain reviewer tends to see the world “your way,” focus on his or her reviews.

10. colonialist - June 30, 2014

I prefer the ones that go –
This is a movie apparantly shot by Tarzan’s simian friends. It has humans in it. It also has animals. The animals have far greater acting ability and appeal than the humans. It is challenging, though. At the end, one can spend ages trying to work out what it was all about.

nrhatch - June 30, 2014


11. Eric Tonningsen - June 30, 2014

I think you’re being quite kind to movie critics/reviewers, Nancy. And Broadway reviewers speak an entirely foreign language. I simply call one of my sisters and ask her if, in her opinion, the viewing was worthwhile or not. She’s usually spot on. 🙂

nrhatch - June 30, 2014

It’s great to have friends and family who point us in the right direction ~ for books, movies, restaurants, etc..

12. Val Boyko - June 30, 2014

Descriptive words and actual content do help don’t they!/?!
Someone’e opinion just isn’t enough for me either.

nrhatch - June 30, 2014

I can’t remember exactly what prompted this post, but a thought popped into my head about some ridiculous reviews I’ve read over the years that said, in essence, “Take my word for it ~ you’ll love this movie.”

People like that have an over-rated sense of their contribution to the grand scheme of things. 😎

13. ericjbaker - June 30, 2014

I think I can tell when a reviewer is erudite and understands the art and the craft of film-making from one who is opining at length to hear himself exhale. I do read reviews if I’m not sure about giving two hours to a film, and I sift out the useful information from the blather.

nrhatch - June 30, 2014

I read reviews and focus on WHAT reviewers liked or didn’t like about a film. If they applaud things like gratuitous violence and sex, I know the move is not for me.

If they talk about the uplifting or thought-provoking nature of the film, or its great comedic elements, those are positives for me.

14. diannegray - June 30, 2014

I love reading reviews in the Saturday newspaper. It gives me a basic idea what the movie is about. I do have an odd sense of what I think is funny, so I don’t pay too much credence to reviews that bag comedies (it’s all about personal taste) 😀

nrhatch - July 1, 2014

We have a local FREEBIE paper, The Ticket, that gives decent reviews and blurbs and shares the rating score received by movies along with a green, orange, or red light. The funny thing to me (probably due to my odd sense of funny) is that a movie with a score of 60/100 is still a “green light.” When I was in school, a 60% rating by my teachers would have been an Epic FAIL!

Comedy, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Or as our Supreme Court is wont to say when asked to define the indefinable, “I know it when I see it.”

15. jannatwrites - July 1, 2014

I don’t read movie reviews (and don’t see many movies either.) If I do see a movie, I pick one that didn’t win an Oscar 🙂 I like to read reviews with specifics- not just ‘I liked it’ or ‘I hated it’.

nrhatch - July 1, 2014

I watched the Oscars this year and jotted down the names of movies with “potential.” Most of them didn’t get added to my Netflix queue because they were too “dark” and/or “twisted.”

I did watch and enjoy Philomena, Her, American Hustle, and Saving Mr. Banks. The Monuments Men was a monumental waste of time.

16. Three Well Beings - July 5, 2014

I don’t read many reviews, to be honest. I almost never end up agreeing with the critics, and so over time I’ve just lost interest in reading. I find writing reviews difficult. I like to leave feedback on Amazon and Goodreads, but it always takes me a very long time to say very little. I don’t want to give away a plot line, and yet I try to be specific. I think a good review takes a lot of time, and if done very well, I may be influenced to see a movie I wouldn’t ordinarily choose.

nrhatch - July 5, 2014

A few years ago, I was involved in a project doing 50-word movie reviews, like these:

A Lot Like Love (2005)

After meeting on a trans-continental flight, Oliver Geary (Ashton Kutcher) and Emily Friehl (Amanda Peet) realize that, mutual attraction aside, they are perfectly wrong for each other. With an edgy, upbeat soundtrack, and smart, funny dialogue, destiny intervenes to bring them together again, but always at the worst possible time. Anna Nalick reminds us to “Breathe, just breathe.”

The Sound of Music (1965)

Maria (Julie Andrews) and the Trapp Family Singers follow their hearts in this true-life adventure set in Nazi-occupied Austria. Overflowing with breath-taking Alpine scenery, beloved songs, and majestic score, Maria steals our hearts as high-spirited novice, then loses hers as inexperienced, loving governess to Baron von Trapp’s seven challenging children.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

After Dorothy (Judy Garland) is swept away from Kansas by a tornado, munchkins encourage Dorothy and friends (Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and Toto) to “follow the Yellow Brick Road” to Oz ~ along the way, the Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) and her flying monkeys attempt to steal the Ruby Slippers. “Oh, Auntie Em, there’s no place like home.”

It was great fun to see what we could leave out while still saying something.

17. livelytwist - July 10, 2014

I love what writers can do with words. I wrote a post once about how writing is a lot like photoshop 🙂 Yes, even I can be a movie reviewer! 🙂

nrhatch - July 10, 2014

Writing and playing with words is great FUN. Cheers!

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